Shrewsbury expert talks utilities and saving money
24th July 2012
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Alan Adams is a Shrewsbury based distributor for Utility Warehouse Discount Club. He shares with us some great advice for when it comes to landlines, mobiles, broadband and energy...

Do you feel confused or unsure about what the best deal is or how to find out what’s most suitable for you?

The utilities market is a confusing place, you’re constantly being bombarded by differing messages, prices, contracts and everyone is saying they’re the best. So, here are eleven questions you have to ask of your utility suppliers, plus three of the most commonly avoidable mistakes.

General Question for all Suppliers 

Do you have any awards from third parties relating to value for money, customer service or quality of product, and, if you have appeared in Which? Magazine, how were you rated?

One of the best known consumer guides is Which? magazine, and your supplier should appear towards the top of any surveys they are in, plus get recommended supplier or best buys.

Are all of your customer service centres in the UK and what is the average waiting time to have a call answered?

You have a much better chance of getting great service and speaking to someone who understands exactly what you are going through if they are, and although all businesses have busy periods, you should have your calls answered with 15 seconds 90% of the time.

Can someone come and sit down with me to explain exactly what I’m getting?

Home or business visits should be possible if the company is great at customer service and really believes in its own product.

Will you provide me with my bill prior to the direct debt going out?

You should have your bill at least a week before the direct debit goes out so that any queries about the bill can be answered before your account is debited.

Do you have other ways in which we can reduce our Bill?

Reward schemes can drastically reduce your utility bills, in some cases by about 25% or more. There are schemes where you get cashback on your high street shopping, you also have them for online shopping, and if you refer someone to the company you want to look at getting ongoing savings every month that person is a customer, not just a one off fee.

Energy Providers

How many tariffs do you have?

I looked at one of the UK’s largest suppliers and they had 30 different tariffs for energy, including ones that are no longer available to new customers. Why not just have one and make it as good as you can, so as a consumer you know you are always getting a great deal…

Do you give a price guarantee?

You should have confidence in what you are switching to and the price guarantee should remain competitive against the big 6 suppliers even if the market goes up or down.


Can I change my tariff up or down should my circumstances change part way through my contract?

You may be limited to one change every 6 months and there may be a small admin fee, however for many people in a traditional contract the only way to change your tariff would be to buy yourself out of the contract, which can be extremely costly.

Once my contract is up, to reflect the fact I’ve paid for the phone can I revert to a much cheaper SIM only rate?

This should be possible you just need to ask for it.

If I take SIM only, am I in a contract and if any new cheaper deals come out can I move to them?

SIM only deals should not carry any minimum term contract and you should be able to switch onto any new deals that the company brings out.


Have you been rated in Which? Magazine for your broadband services?

Broadband isn’t like energy, service and speed will be down to the provider. Which? magazine has even named and shamed one of the broadband suppliers telling their readers to leave it, so it’s important that you get a good one that has been recommended.

Do you have a minimum term contract period?

There is absolutely no reason for residential customers to be held in a contract for their broadband unless the company in question doesn’t believe in the quality it has to offer

If you bring out a new cheaper deal, will I get it?

There may be incentives for new customers, but should the overall price be reduced you should get it automatically, also there’s nothing worse than ringing somewhere up to cancel because you have a better deal from somewhere else, and then your current supplier says “we can give you a better deal now”. Where was that deal before you began looking?

Common Mistakes

Using price comparison websites can help, however with things like energy it takes six to eight weeks to switch over from you existing supplier and if there is no price guarantee the rate you are switching over to may have already gone up by the time your energy is with the new supplier.

Absolute cheapest can be a mistake, if the company doesn’t have good customer service, they can end up costing more in time and bad service.

Getting trapped into thinking that some companies that offer bundled services such as TV, phone and broadband will end up costing more if you unbundle the package to go with another supplier. Most of the time this isn’t the case.

For further advice on money saving, call Alan on 01743 491364.]]>
About the Author

Catherine B

Member since: 12th June 2012

I am a PR and copywriting specialist and handle much of this work for the bestof Shrewsbury. I am passionate about living and working in Shrewsbury promoting the people, businesses and services which operate...

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